Ministry wants to bite into dog food bill

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2013
Police dogs
Fairfax NZ

ANKLE BITERS: The dogs at six government agencies eat about 136 tonnes of dry food a year. And these police puppies at Trentham help other pups chomp their way through 15 tonnes of puppy food.

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After putting the squeeze on public servants, the Government is now putting the bite on its dogs.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has gone to the market to find a supplier of puppy and dog food for the estimated 800 to 900 dogs on Government leashes - sniffing around air travellers, chasing crooks, doing guard duty and mustering sheep.

It is advertising on the Government Electronic Tender Service for a company to supply food for dogs used by police, Aviation Security, Customs, the Defence Force, Landcorp and Corrections.

Ministry of Primary Industries chief financial officer Tony Murray said it had about 70 dogs and puppies on its books and was spending about $30,000 a year on dog food, and $150,000 on other related services such as vets and kennels. But he declined to provide comparable details for all the other civil and military service canines, as that could be divulging state secrets.

"While MPI is happy to provide details about its own information, not all parties . . . wish to make detailed volume or spend information public because of the classified sensitive or top-secret nature of some of the dog work involved."

Police, with one of the biggest packs of dogs, have about 220. These - including working stock, breeding stock, training stock and puppy development stock - chewed through about $250,000 of dog food a year, a spokeswoman said.

Landcorp's farm dogs have the largest appetite - they chew through about 90 tonnes of dry food and 3.5 tonnes of puppy food each year.

Tender documents indicate the six agencies combined use about 136 tonnes of dry food and another 15 tonnes of puppy food each year.

They also suggest police are the only organisation to reward its dogs with treats - 100kg a year.

The Defence Force dogs are also apparently the only ones to get more than the odd bone to gnaw on. They get through an estimated 624 rawhide chews each year.

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